Parking issues delay courthouse project

Published 10:44 am Monday, August 8, 2011

WINTON – An apparent lack of adequate parking here during the construction phase of the new Hertford County Courthouse has the project currently on hold.

The new $8.6 million, two-story facility will be built on county-owned property located at the corner of South King Street and West Tyron Street, across from the current courthouse. That property is currently used as an unpaved parking lot for those conducting business at the courthouse or other county offices.

However, once construction begins, that parking area can no longer be utilized, causing concern among Town of Winton officials.

At their Monday meeting, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution of intent to provide adequate parking within the Town of Winton during construction of the new courthouse.

That resolution addresses parking issues on two fronts: (1) the intent to purchase a parcel of property currently owned by Wesley R. Stewart; and (2) the intent to demolish the current courthouse and transform that area into a paved parking lot no later than six months after the completion of the new facility (scheduled for July of 2013).

The Stewart property, located on the east side of King Street across from Hertford County Office Building #1, will provide approximately 38 parking spaces. Once the old courthouse is torn down, that area can provide up to 75 parking spaces.

However, it appears that Town of Winton officials are not satisfied with the availability of parking spaces provided to motorists conducting county business during the construction phase of the courthouse project.

“(Hertford County Manager) Loria (Williams) and I met with the Winton Town Board on Monday night and they still have some concerns, even after we informed them of our efforts to address the parking issue,” said Hertford County Assistant Manager John Rankins. “They feel we’re still unable to show there will be enough available parking during construction of the courthouse.”

Even though the parking concerns persist, Rankins praised Town of Winton officials for their willingness to work with the county to find a solution.

“They offered to help us, put us in touch with other property owners in close proximity to the courthouse project in an effort to secure land that could be used for parking,” Rankins said. “It’s our understanding that the town will revisit this once we present them with other parking options.”

Meanwhile, Rankins said Winton officials are adhering to the town’s setback requirements in regards to the new courthouse. That town ordinance calls for a 40-foot building setback from the street. Ware Bonsall Architects, the firm under contract by the county for the design of the new courthouse, were requesting a variance of that ordinance to allow a 20-foot setback in an effort to accommodate “secure parking” (for judges, etc.). Rankins said that variance was denied.

The parking and variance issues have temporarily delayed the county from moving forward in issuing an invitation to contractors to bid on the new courthouse project.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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